Budapest Thermal Baths

I just finished a little touristic outing in Budapest. One of the big things to do while in Budapest is go to a thermal bath. I went to one several years ago with some friends and the experience was a little weird, but I decided to give it another chance. This time I tried a different bath complex, the Szechenyi Bath. Let me quote from a local English guide magazine, the Budapest Funzine. “Szechenyi Bath is one of Europe’s greatest spa complexes…” and “There are saunas, steam rooms, massage therapy, ice-spitting gargoyles, floating chess boards, a whirlpool with Jacuzzi and more.”

I was completely underwhelmed – no, worse, I was disgusted. After purchasing my $14 ticket I went downstairs to the locker rooms. The lockers were falling apart, the tile floor was covered with a thin layer of mud, and the air smelled disgusting. Then I couldn’t figure out how to use the lockers. Finally I learned from a lady upstairs that after changing and putting my belongings in the locker I had to ask one of the two the guy dressed in white to lock my locker – odd system.

Since I was starving I unfortunately had to eat at the bath cafeteria. They offered all of about 2 dishes. I chose the best I could, which turned out to be the most disgusting meal I’ve had in a long time.

Then there are the baths themselves. Both the outside and inside baths ranged from a temperature of uselessly slightly-less-than-lukewarm to uselessly slightly-more-than-lukewarm. I really wanted to be sure that I had not missed the best of the baths, so when I saw an opening under one of the pipes filling the bath I positioned myself beneath the outpouring water. After a minute or so I recognized an odor I was smelling – it was the smell of petroleum products. I recognized from working in the field of environmental clean-up. The water smelled a little on the contaminated side – I’d really like to see the results of a test done on these waters.

Of course the story of my experience wouldn’t be complete without a description of the people. The visitors and employees are probably nice enough, but let’s just say that the baths are not worth going to for people watching.

Needless to say I’m not doing that again.

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3 responses to “Budapest Thermal Baths

  1. you should have paid 2 $ more and got yourself a proper locker, which is big, clean, you can leave all your stuff there and change your clothes without anybody seeing you….

    i do not know at which day and what time you were there – probably monday around noon?? – but there are normally always all sorts of people, including foreigners who live in Budapest and toursists like yourself.

    Anyways, this is like one of those things when you try to find a nice hotel abroad, and you read some reviews of people who have been there – there is always somebody complaining, which makes you uncertain about the choice you’ve made. My point: I hope not too many people take your comments too seriously and will visit the bath nevertheless.

    ciao have fun in Europe

  2. Liina, yes, $2 more would have gotten me a large clean locker, but for what? And about the complaining, check out any other post on this blog – you’ll see that I’m the last to complain.

    But you’re right about visiting the baths. If you ever find yourself in Budapest, going to a bath is just something you must do.

  3. Pingback: European Party » Hungarian Duck

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